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You can't fool THIS nose!
Wolverine, X-Men TV series.

A common superpower, especially among characters with animal themes: super-powerful smell abilities.

They Have the Scent may come into play.

The Werewolf is likely to have them, along with other canine or lupine characters.

May be a form of Charles Atlas Superpower. Often used to handwave the Scarily Competent Tracker. If food is involved, see Follow Your Nose. Nose Tapping may be used to indicate that they do know.

Examples of The Nose Knows include:


Advertising

  • Toucan Sam, the mascot of Froot Loops, has the ability to smell out his cereal from up to several miles away. This probably counts, as most toucans probably don't have nearly so well honed a sense of smell.


Comicbooks

  • Puma in the Spider-Man comics. He easily determined Spider-Man's secret identity.
  • Wolverine and Sabertooth have this as a major ability. Wolverine's makes him the go-to person for identifying impersonators; it seems that even if you can change everything from your voice, hair color, and the shape and color of your body, you can't change how you smell.
    • He's even used a lack of smell to identify that something's fishy, likening it to a big dark spot in the middle of an otherwise well-lit room.
  • Daredevil is another comic book example. Matt's sense of smell is sometimes exaggerated beyond all credibility (making him able to smell, say, what people ate last week), especially when they're downplaying the radar sense.
  • Blade's sense of smell is slightly superhuman and he's especially good at sniffing out vampires.
  • Wolfsbane, a werewolf in the original New Mutants, has this.
    • As does Catspaw, a were-giant purple cat in the original Hellions.
  • So does Sensor Girl of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who is actually Princess Projectra.


Anime & Manga

  • This is one of Kiba's special abilities (eventually said to grow to the point that it's better than the dogs he would fight with), though it blows up in his face spectacularly (pun intended) during the Tournament Arc battle against Naruto. The worse thing? It was *hilarious*
    • Him and his clan are really only the most outstanding example, as both the Third Hokage and Kakashi have shown to have rather acute sense of smell, the latter of which became critical to finding Akatsuki member Sasori.
  • In what can only be described an... odd variation, Mahou Sensei Negima has Chamo and Jack Rakan locating an enemy in an enormous barrier dimension... by tracing the scent of her panties which Rakan stole earlier. With alarming precision.
  • Fuuko in Clannad. Good God, when she said that she'd memorized Ushio's scent, she wasn't kidding. She tracked her down by scent even in an alternate timeline.
    • Probably justified by this.
  • For a guy whose head is just a helmet Kikuchiyo has damn good sense of smell. The Emperor found out the hard way.
  • In Yu-Gi-Oh, Joey's nose is apparently so good he can smell the perfume Mai uses to tag her cards from the opposite side of a dueling arena. Good thing he'd managed to get over that cold he'd caught at the beginning of the episode.
    • Mai's ability to identify 60 or so cards apart by different perfumes is pretty impressive itself.
      • Truth in Television - Veteran perfume-makers are often cabable of recognizing hundreds of different scents.
  • This was Apollo's special 'psychic power' on Genesis of Aquarion. While it might seem like a rather poor ability when compared to those of his comrades, (like Pyrokinesis, Telekinesis, Super Strength and Teleportation) it proves to be one of the most useful powers on the course of series, being capable of smelling things like microscopical organism (from several feet away, when inside a cockpit!) and immaterial beings.
  • Inoue Orihime from Bleach can figure out where Ichigo is because she can find him by scent.
  • Inuyasha makes use of this, occasionally having him track enemies by scent and be able to tell that there's trouble in a nearby village because he can smell human blood. Fridge Logic sets in when it cuts to a pillar of smoke and you wonder why he didn't smell that first. This is used as a Weaksauce Weakness almost as often as a strength, as strong odors knock Inuyasha out. Pity serious villains never take advantage of it.
    • Sesshoumaru's sense of smell is even better than Inuyasha's. He once caught the scent of something that was many miles away and produced only by a tiny sliver of flesh. He can also smell spirits that are in the area but haven't even manifested. Unlike Inuyasha, Sesshoumaru has never been put in a position where the sensitivity of his nose can be used against him except in situations where the Big Bad has deliberately set up a scent trail for him to follow in an effort to lead him into a trap.
  • Kasumi Kenshiro of Fist of the Blue Sky invokes this trope. He is said to have a sense of smell equal to a dog, and it is an important plot element in several episodes, as Kenshiro uses his sense of smell to detect poisons, bomb chemicals, and track people across an entire city. Apparently, this is just him, as none of the other Hokuto style practitioners display this ability.
  • Dorochette the Dog Chimera in Fullmetal Alchemist.
    • In the manga we later see two other chimera who can fight by smell. Ed counters it by finding some old dynamite and overwhelming them with the smell of the ammonia he converts the ammonium nitrate into.
      • They also use this to fight Gluttony and Pride when the lights need to be turned out to make it easier to fight Pride.
  • Sapphire in Pokémon Special as part of her Wild Child nature. She is, for example, able to detect the location of a trapped Pokémon and long-forgotten hidden entrances by smell alone. She can also figure out the health of a Pokémon based on the smell of their excrement, something Ruby teases her about in the Emerald Arc since her tendency to do this leaves a bit of fecal matter on her nose.
  • Son Goku from Dragon Ball has a strong sense of smell that allowed him to find a rock thrown off of a cliff by Kame-Sennin ("Master Roshi").
    • It also caused poor Goku to collapse on the floor when he met Bacterian, since the stench was so horrible that Goku's very sensitive nose couldn't stand it.
  • In one episode of Sasami Magical Girls Club, Sasami and the others are lost in an underground labyrinth, until Amitav arrives. He tells Sasami that he recognized her scent, causing the other girls to wonder if he has a really good sense of smell or if Sasami just stinks.
  • In Fairy Tail, the Dragon Slayers Gajeel Redfox, Natsu Dragneel, and Wendy Marvell all have a very good sense of smell due to being raised by dragons. Ichiya has a good sense of smell as well, probably because of his perfume magic, but his extends all the way to being able to Detect Evil by scent alone.
  • Tsujido, Suitengu's right hand man from Speed Grapher has a super sense of smell as his euphoric power.
  • Saki has the Tsuruga Mahjong Club's president, Kanbara, who was revealed in the bonus chapter of volume 7 to be capable of detecting people by scent. This even bypasses Momo's stealth mode, which works by making people ignore her presence.
  • It's been stated that Toriko has a nose better than a bloodhound's.


Fanfiction

  • In 'Nexus' This is how Jack was able to realize he was about to get attacked by Scarecrows. He also deduces that while in the Demon World, that if he could smell the demons, they could smell him. More specifically they could smell his Sparda blood.


Film


Literature

  • In Dan Abnett's Gaunt's Ghosts novels, Ezsrah has powerful smelling abilities. Indeed, in one passage contemplating how strange the Ghosts were, he distinguishes their three homeworlds by smell before considering how different they look, and then that their three commissars also smell different from any of them.
  • In William King's Warhammer 40000: Space Wolf novels, Ragnar relies heavily on his sense of smell to judge things, to track, and to determine how people feel.
    • In Lee Lightner's Wolf's Honour, at the end, Berek smells Ragnor and tells his men not to ready their weapons.
  • The heroes of Robert Lynn Asprin's fantasy novel Myth-ing Persons bring in a werewolf tracker to help them find the fugitives they are chasing.
  • In Graham McNeill's Warhammer 40000 Ultramarines novel Dead Sky, Black Sun, their ability to smell "the mothers" on Uriel is what persuades the Unfleshed to listen to him.
  • In E.W. Hildick's McGurk juvenile mystery series, Willy the Nose is one of the kid detectives, with a super-sensitive sense of smell that his leader puts great store by. The narrator is a little dubious about this, but it does seem to come in handy more times than not.
  • Evie Scelan's main ability is to track anything, mundane or magical, by scent.
  • The main plot point in the novel Perfume is the main character's incomparable sense of smell.
  • The main character of Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children has the ability to smell things no one else can smell, such as lies or oncoming disaster.
  • Sergeant Angua of Terry Pratchett's Discworld has this even in human form, which proves to be very helpful in several cases, notably the investigation in the dwarf mines during Thud
    • Lance Constable Sally has a similar ability, but she senses blood, and it is in some cases more useful than Angua's nose, which irks her.
    • Unfortunately for them, once the criminals realised there was a werewolf in the watch (although they don't know who, exactly, it is) they started carrying around scent bombs to muddle their trail.
  • This takes two different forms in The Wheel of Time series. Wolfbrothers are characters with an unnatural affinity for wolves. Among several other abilities, their sense of smell is enhanced so much that they can tell the emotional state of people around them even without any visual cues. They can even detect such things as deception and madness, which is immensely handy. Perrin is one. In case you're wondering, such an ability is biologically impossible, but since this trait is believed to be caused by magic, that's all right. Also, there are "sniffers", a kind of people with an inborn ability to sense violence as a smell on people or places. Sniffers are rare and maybe even nonexistent south of the Borderlands, but still more common - or at least, more socially accepted - than Wolfbrothers.
  • In the Women of the Otherworld series by Kelley Armstrong, a werewolf's sense of smell is incredibly strong to the point where werewolves find it necessary to use specifically non-scented hygiene products if they want their sense of smell to work at full capacity. Elena, a female werewolf, can't even stand to use scented hand soap, as it severely interferes with her ability to smell anything else. She herself has the best nose of her Pack, and once she catches a scent, she'll be able to remember and hunt the person down by it even years later. It's shown in Bitten that newly-bitten and inexperienced werewolves will likely still use scented products if they did so as a human, having not yet learned to rely on their nose just as much as their eyes and ears, which puts them at a distinct disadvantage against other werewolves.
    • This is similarly shown in Darkest Powers, Armstrong's YA trilogy. Werewolves have enhanced senses in general, but those senses aren't very strong until they Change into wolf form for the first time (usually around eighteen). Derek, a sixteen-year-old werewolf, has an incredibly enhanced sense of smell even though he hasn't actually begun to Change into wolf form yet. In a small house that is completely and consistently overlaid by the scents of about eight different people, he is still capable of pinning down the scent of the person he wants to find, determining the most recent trail despite her having just walked all through the house, and track her down into the basement and into a cellar where she was locked inside and physically incapable of doing anything to make anyone aware of her location. Of course, considering she has no idea that he's anything other than human, this causes some awkwardness when he has to explain how he managed to find her.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Rogues in the House Conan the Barbarian can identify Murilo by his perfume, despite its being scarcely detectable by the civilized.
  • Willie “The Nose” Sandowskey from the Mc Gurk Detective Agency book series by Edmund Wallace Hildick had a keen sense of smell. He was able to smell things others couldn't, and identify the scents.
  • Labyrinths of Echo had the protagonist meeting a rich and optimistic eternal student with this ability as one of the victim of magical monster incident of the tenday. Secret Investigations recruited him to help in the same case and then permanently. Later it turned out that obviously useful nose is not his only talent: he's surprisingly good with Invisible Magic, and his mother was a talented witch who taught him some amusing child games... such as magical legerdemain. One of the prequels revealed that he was an eternal student out of necessity as much as out of habit: Sniffers either distract themselves from sensory input all the time, or get distracted from most other mental activity, thus usually have problems with development, especially as this sense undermines the incentives to think by supplying ready answers about places, things and people. Thus when he was slow to start talking, his mother decided that best defense is good offense and taught him to learn constantly, as well as some disciplines that were hard to herself - without telling him that it's hard, that it's magic, or anything but fun games at all. As a little twist, this ability covers not only "smell" in the usual sense, but something close to Aura Vision - it can detect "smells" of dreams, curses and Dark Side just as well.

Live-Action TV

  • In the Doctor Who comic strip "The Love Invasion", the Doctor is able to work out that the Lend-a-Hand girls aren't human because they smell odd. Rose even refers to his sense of smell as "the infallible space nose".
    • Similarly, one of the things that tips him off about a clone in the episode "The Poison Sky" is her smell.
    • Poked fun at when a character in the episode "The Empty Child" wanted to know how the Doctor had managed to follow her. Note: this was when the Doctor was being played by Christopher Eccleston, who has a fairly prominent nose and ears.

 9th Doctor: I'm good at following, me. Got the nose for it.

Nancy: People can't usuallly follow me if I don't want 'em to.

Doctor: My nose has special powers.

Nancy: Really? Is that why it's...Do your ears have special powers too?

    • The Doctor has sometimes claimed to be able to identify the year by smell. But more often he has to use other means.
  • In Torchwood: Children of Earth, Clem can smell that Gwen is pregnant and that Ianto is "queer."
  • The Supersniffer!
  • Napoleon LeNez and Oscar Vibenius in Pushing Daisies.
  • In The Tenth Kingdom, Wolf manages to follow Virgina's scent to the middle of a swamp, where she's buried under a mass of vines. Sort of justified in that he's a werewolf.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel:
    • Vampires have a fairly limited version of this. They are able to smell who people have been close to recently, but are rarely shown tracking people in frequently traveled areas. This ability is even called into question at one point. Wesley declares that Angel's nose shouldn't be as sensitive as he claims it to be. Angel takes a good whiff, and informs Wes that he had sex with a bottle blonde the night before.

 Wesley: Good Lord! How did you--

Cordelia: That's unbelievable. I didn't think you ever had sex.

    • Connor either has a better version, or has been given more incentive to get good at it.
    • Oz, a werewolf who usually seems completely normal when in human form, manages to smell Willow while driving around in a van. He can even tell she's afraid. Later Oz is clued into Willow's relationship with Tara because he can smell her scent on her.
  • The hero of The Sentinel had this ability, along with the other senses. So did at least one villain on that show, his Evil Counterpart.
  • P.T., from The Kids from CAPER, had this.
  • Rachel Pirzad has this on Alphas.

Newspaper Comics


Tabletop Games

  • Werewolves, of course. Supernaturally good tracking abilities, Rituals that allow them to share an acquired scent between pack mates, and Gifts that allow them to smell things such as lies.
  • Shadowrun adepts are people with magical potential who, instead of learning spells or dealing with spirits, use it to train their bodies to superhuman levels. There are, predictably, five options for buying the enhanced sense power.


Videogames

  • Sveta in Golden Sun Dark Dawn can find monster tracks by using solely her sense of smell, although this skill is only used two or three times through the whole game.
  • In Persona 4 Teddie literally "smells" the presence of a human trapped in the TV World. He even said the titular phrase and it was hilarious!
  • Link in wolf form In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess can follow scent trails, represented as colored vapor trails in his Predator-vision "sense view".
    • Similarly, in The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, there is a mask that allows you to see scents and sniff out mushrooms.
  • Ciel in Tsukihime can tell that Shiki been fighting Nero Chaos and that he had an erotic dream by smelling him. She basically just walks up to him and starts sniffing. She has no real animal emphasis however.
  • The Dog from Secret of Evermore can find alchemy ingredients anywhere.
  • In Discworld Noir, Lewton becomes a werewolf, then must match scents (distinguished by colored fumes) to other scents in order to track down clues and identify the culprits.
  • In Chain of Memories the darkness starts to affect Riku's sense of smell, giving him an ability sense metaphysical things such as people's auras that way.
  • Many Pokémon have this ability. In fact, the move Odor Sleuth takes advantage of this, allowing Ghost Types to be hit with Normal and Fighting type moves and lowering evasion to normal levels, making it quite useful.


Webcomics

 Niomi: How good is that nose of yours?

Florence: Ever hear about people trying to train dogs to detect the onset of epileptic seizures?

Niomi: You can smell my brain?

Florence: Well, it's not like you guys wash it regularly.


Web Original

  • Several Avatars of animal spirits in the Whateley Universe have this: Mongoose (possessor of a mongoose spirit), Aquerna (has a squirrel spirit), and Kodiak (a bear spirit) are just three of them. There's also the kid with the super-sensitive nose who passed out from the smell when Jade came to class, even though she was sure she had gotten the smell of sewer and monster guts off her already.


Western Animation

  • Subversion: A few episodes of The Alvin Show (predecessor to Alvin and The Chipmunks) feature "Sam Valiant, Private Nose." He thinks his enormous schnoz solves mysteries, but he's always way off.
  • Ferret of Static Shock. When you compare him to guys who can throw fireballs or turn their hands into buzz saws, it gets pretty easy to see why he didn't do a lot of solo work.
  • The Simpsons Homer Simpson has demonstrated the ability to smell frosting decorations on a cake in another room:

 Wait, I can smell a cake...frosting says "Farewell...and...*gasps* BEST WISHES!"

  "Motor-oil and competence."


Real Life

  • Some sources about Native Americans claim that there had indeed been rare individuals amongst them who could smell as well or better as dogs.
  • Women generally have better senses of smell than men, but during menstruation some women have a heightened sense of smell due to all the hormones flooding their system. (It's not as awesome when thinking of it, however.) Pregnancy can also drastically increase one's sense of smell, and possibly hearing: a blindfolded new mom can potentially distinguish her baby among other babies due to this.
  • Spraying a small amount of water vapor up one's nostrils is an effective way to heighten one's sense of smell, as it liquifies the mucus layer over the olfactory epithelium and allows odorants to penetrate more easily. This method is extensively used by wine-tasters, coffee-ground testers, people who check fish for freshness, etc.
  • Animals with keen senses of smell (commonly dogs, but sometimes others such as pigs or rats) are routinely trained for tracking and detection work.
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